Julius Yego: From Learning Javelin on YouTube to Becoming a World Champion

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Julius Yego ignited the interest of Kenyans and Africans in the sport of javelin. This was the first time since the 1970s that the country had an athlete in this discipline competing internationally. 

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One of the amazing things about Yego is that he’s a self-taught javelin thrower. What made him venture into the sport? This article will reveal that and more details about Julius Yego.

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Julius Yego’s Background

Julius Yego was born on 4 January 1989 in Tinderet, Nandi District, Kenya. Yego grazed cattle while growing up and it was during this time that he began throwing sticks. He competed with his friends to see who’d throw the furthest. 

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Becoming a Professional

As a student at Kapsabet High School, he competed in regional championships. He won the 2006 national junior title with a throw of 67 metres. At this point, he realized he could pursue a professional career in javelin. The country didn’t have coaches and thus, he used YouTube to sharpen his skills, hence his nickname, the “YouTube man”.

He studied elite javelin throwers like Jan Železný and Andreas Thorkildsen. In 2008, Yego won his first national title and retained it in 2009 and 2010. He then earned a call-up to represent the country at the 2010 African Championships in Athletics. He won a bronze medal after he threw the javelin to a distance of 74.51m, which was his personal best.

At the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Yego finished the competition in seventh place after recording a throw of 69.60m. The following year, at the All-African Games, he registered a national record of 78.34m. For his efforts, World Athletics gave him a scholarship to sharpen his skills ahead of the London Olympics. 

Before the Summer Games in 2012, Yego improved his distances. From registering another national record of 79.95m to 81.12m, he became the first Kenyan to compete at the Olympics in javelin. He made it into the final after throwing the javelin in 81.81m.

“Being an Olympian is something you will never forget so when I was named in the Olympics, I was just so happy. Luckily enough, I was in the finals so that just changed all my life.” Yego told Olympics.com.

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In 2013, Yego’s star continued to rise. At the World Championship in 2013 in Moscow, he threw 85.40m and was the first Kenyan to compete in this event. 

In 2014, he became the first Kenyan to win a title at the Commonwealth title in this event after he threw a distance of 83.87m. In the same year, he beat Egyptian Ihab Abdelrahman El-Sayed at the African Championships. 

Yego’s improvement continued and in 2015, he produced his best performance at the 2015 World Championships. He made a throw of 92.72m, the fifth longest in history and an African record.

In 2016, Yego won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics after throwing the javelin at a distance of 88.24m.

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Medal Drought

After hitting the heights of his career in 2015, Julius Yego has struggled to put in world-beating performances. He was 13th in London and eighth in Doha World Championships

He was also slowed down by injury and although he’s been able to make comebacks, he’s only won local events and not been able to impose himself internationally.  

At the World Championships in Budapest, Yego exited in the first round after he failed to reach the 83m qualification mark. Nonetheless, he insisted that he can still compete.

“I have to decide what to do but I can still compete. If I had to rest and focus on the next season, I would be ready for that. That said, I’m focused and still excited to compete.” Yego told Capital Sport.

Julius Yego made it against all odds. He demonstrates that you can achieve whatever you desire when you put your mind to it.

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